In response to a proposal from the American Samoa Government to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Congress designated the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary (sanctuary) in 1986, among other reasons, “to protect and preserve an example of a pristine tropical marine habitat and coral reef terrace ecosystem of exceptional biological productivity (51 Federal Register [FR] 15878 ).”
In 2012, NOAA designated an additional five protected areas within the sanctuary in addition to Fagatele Bay, and changed the name of the sanctuary to the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa (77 FR 43942 ).
NOAA incorporated these additional areas into the sanctuary to enhance protection of valuable natural and cultural resources within American Samoa; to improve overall ecosystem health and resiliency by augmenting the network of marine protected areas across the territory; to reach a wider general audience by increasing the sanctuary presence across the territory; to further local stewardship and incorporate local traditions and knowledge in resource management; to increase capacity for research opportunities, including that to improve understanding of ecosystem threats and ways to limit impacts of such threats; and to fulfill the presidential mandate to incorporate the marine areas of Rose Atoll Marine National Monument into the sanctuary.
NOAA co-manages the sanctuary with the American Samoa Government and works closely with communities adjacent to the sanctuary, all within the context of Samoan cultural traditions and practices. Sanctuary regulations clarify that NOAA has primary responsibility for sanctuary management, and that the American Samoa Department of Commerce (AS DOC) will assist NOAA in the administration of the sanctuary and act as the lead territorial agency (15 CFR 922.106). To learn more about the sanctuary’s management structure, including the roles of the federal and territorial governments, management resources and tools, please visit our Management page.